Bridging the gaps in biodiversity conservation and use

30 September 2014

Biodiversity loss continues to present a major global challenge. A 2002 goal set by global leaders to significantly halt the decline by 2010 – measured by 21 sub-targets – did not even come close to being met.

At the same time, some estimates suggest that at least 40 percent of the global economy depends directly or indirectly on biological resources. This figure climbs to around 80 percent when evaluating the needs of the world’s poorest communities. Earlier this year, UN climate scientists also warned of far-reaching consequences in the face of climate change, set to leave marks on natural and human systems across all continents and oceans.

Against this backdrop, delegates gathering later this month in Pyeongchang, South Korea for the CBD COP12 will have their work cut out for them. Key tasks include discussion on how to ramp up efforts on a strategic plan governing biodiversity management and policy action to the end of the decade.

A potential bright spot on the agenda, the Pyeongchang COP will see the entry into force and first meeting of the Nagoya Protocol, designed to implement the CBD’s third pillar on access to and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.These are often commercialised and traded as natural ingredients in food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic products and benefit sharing would also be required with the providers if research and development is conducted.

However, as the two lead articles in this BioRes issue argue, some gaps exist in the final text of the Nagoya Protocol. Daniel Robinson provides an overview of the trade-relevant areas up for discussion in Pyeongchang, including uncertainties that remain around national implementation of Nagoya, and monitoring and reporting mechanisms for the new instrument. Morten Walløe Tvedt takes a look at issues that need to be addressed to make the Protocol a more functional conservation and sustainable use instrument, including use of contracts as well as potential holes in its scope.

According to the Nagoya Protocol’s opening lines, appropriate access to genetic resources, transfer of relevant technologies, and necessary funding will help to ensure the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components.

There is still some catching up to do in relation to both conservation efforts and sustainable use practices. The Nagoya Protocol also has at is core an aim to build a bridge between the need to safeguard the world’s biodiversity and being able to reap benefits from the equitable employment of its components. But will it live up to this potential?

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The BioRes Team

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